Hawaii Teacher on Board

By Naidah Gamurot

Position: Ship's Diver

Person Interviewed: Dan Granstrom, Oiler

Location: Engine Control Room on the R/V Thompson

Date: October 22, 1998

Note: Dan has served in many positions at sea, including captain. As he was sharing some of them with me, I found this one to be particularly fascinating. (The Thompson does not carry a dive crew.) Dan's got some great stories about the sea. He's gonna make some little kids a great grandpa someday!

What are some of the responsibilities and daily activities of a ship's diver?

The ship's diver checks the intake valves, the props and any other things on the outside of the ship under water. He is also responsible for changing the underwater transponders and may do some diving for scientists, when requested.

What are some of the skills, physical abilities, and personal characteristics someone should have if considering being a ship's?

A ship's diver must be in excellent physical condition, level-minded, and capable of functioning effectively in dangerous and inhospitable conditions.

What kinds of high school courses would you recommend for someone considering this type of work?

Math for the decompression tables and physics.

What additional training is required or available after high school?

You must be trained and certified in diving. Diving schools do exist for this type of training.

What is the job market like this position or field?

There are not a lot of openings in this field at the present time. Getting on a NOAA ship is probably your best bet. Ship's divers are also used by oil companies to maintain their oil rigs at sea.

What is the entry-level job for this position?

None

What is the next higher level?

None

What are your working hours like?

Whenever something needs to be done. In addition, there are proficiency dives to keep skills honed.

In what kind of environment do you work?

Underwater, sometimes in very cold water - Alaska, Antarctica

What is the average starting salary for your job?

The pay varies, but starting average base pay is around $25/hour.

What are some positive features of your job?

Lots of travelling and diving time.

What are some negative features of your job?

It's a hard job. Sometimes you can't see, so you must feel yourself around. You must constantly be thinking. The can be very dangerous and strenuous.

Being away from the family for months at a time.

Talking with Dan…

One of Dan's favorite things was doing the "fun" dives, like 12:30 am in Nome, Alaska - in broad daylight. It was cold, but there was still light. He's also dove in Hawaii during a full moon. The white of the sand reflected moonlight back through the water. There was no need for lights in the middle of the night.

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